Turkish FM urges int’l community to warn Israel, not Turkey, on flotilla

02 June 2011, Thursday / TODAYSZAMAN.COM,

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has pointed to Israel as the party that should be receiving warnings over a second flotilla while responding to international calls on Turkey to prevent the flotilla from sailing to the Gaza Strip in breach of an Israeli naval blockade.

“Sometimes the international community has no courage to warn Israel and it chooses different ways,” Davutoğlu, speaking on Thursday, told Turkey’s Habertürk network in Konya, where he is campaigning for a parliamentary seat he hopes to win in general elections that are less than two weeks away.

Along with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a number of countries earlier called on Turkey to prevent the flotilla from sailing again so as to not increase tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Nine civilians, including eight Turkish nationals, were killed by Israeli naval commandos a year ago as a six-vessel flotilla, led by the Mavi Marmara, tried to breach the Israeli naval blockade on Gaza. Turkey demands an official apology and compensation to the families of the victims. Israel rejects this, claiming instead that its soldiers acted in self-defense.

Davutoğlu criticized the international community for warning Turkey instead of Israel, saying the international community sometimes lacks the courage to confront Israel. “This is not the correct position,” Davutoğlu said.

Noting that not only Turkish nationals participated in the flotilla last year, Davutoğlu said there will also be international participation in this year’s convoy, expected to set sail after Turkey’s parliamentary elections on June 12.

The Turkish foreign minister said efforts to portray the issue as bilateral tension between the two countries are only an attempt “to cover up a crime against humanity.”

“The blockade of Gaza is a crime against humanity. This is not correct, not legal,” Davutoğlu said, adding that Hamas and Fatah have agreed to join forces and that no rockets have been fired into Israel for months. “What is the purpose of the blockade then? We cannot sustain this international order if the security and sovereignty of a nation in one region of the world is considered more important than all other states. This is why this issue should be prioritized in the international sphere and why everyone must act responsibly,” Davutoğlu stressed.

He also balked at calls to prevent the flotilla from sailing and said that in democratic societies it is impossible to intervene in the work of civil society organizations

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